Tagged: Texas Rangers

Talk around the Hot Stove

youkilis250_011609.jpgOPENING VOLLEY
Saw a headline on ESPN.com just now that said, “Braves to consider bringing back Glavine, Jones.” I’m guessing that if you click on it, you also find out that they’re willing to think about bringing back Spahn, Sain, and the rain prayer.

No doubt you’ve seen that the Red Sox locked up Kevin Youkilis for four years, with an option for a fifth year. While it seems highly likely that Youkilis’ production is going to get dialed back a bit this coming season, he’s still a productive player at his old level, and if he can play third base next year, he’ll up his value while allowing the Red Sox to make room for first baseman Lars Anderson, who looks like he’s going to be a very Youkilis-like hitter. Best of all, the length of time is right. The Red Sox will monopolize whatever good years Youkilis has left, then let some other team pick up the tab on his decline phase.

I’m a bit confused by the Michael Young controversy in Texas. If you haven’t been following the bouncing shortstop, Young is getting pushed from that position to third base to make room for prospect Elvis Andrus. Now, Young is kind of a Jeter out there, a good hitter for his position but not the rangiest cat in the jungle, so the move does make some sense. The problem is, Andrus turned 20 in August and hasn’t played above Double A. He looks like he has the defensive tools to play short now (the Rangers clearly think so), but the problem is that his bat seems very unlikely to carry over — he hit .295/.350/.367 at Double A, but you start applying filters to that and you get a Major League line where his power and OBP are non-existent. The Rangers will bat him at the bottom of the order, let him steal some bases when/as/if he gets on base, and pray that it works out, because after all this drama about moving Young, they can’t just yank him back to short if things don’t work out.

You can smell some kind of additional move coming up, along the lines of the one the Orioles executed today when they signed Gregg Zaun as Matt Wieters insurance. The way the free agent market is (not) moving, they might be able to pick up a David Eckstein or Orlando Cabrera to battle Andrus in Spring Training — and win. It will benefit everyone if the Rangers’ plan doesn’t pay off. Andrus might be pretty good someday, but all the Rangers will succeed in doing by bringing him to the Majors so early is make sure he’s really expensive at 22 and with another organization at 27. The Rangers will let him learn on the job, but some other club will reap the benefit, and/or they’ll have to pay for the privilege of getting to the god stuff.

I messed up yesterday and credited Buzah for the Jim Rice home/road comment when it should have been Charlie F. Apologies, guys. Now that I’m awake again after a long winter’s book season, I’ll get the details right in the future. Now here’s something that Buzah did say:

Though I think Rice has no place in the Hall, that was not me you were quoting above. Anyway, your YES colleague Ken Singleton was a better player, for Pete’s sake, as were former Yankees like Rock Raines, Charlie Keller and Tommy Henrich.

I’m not just saying this because he’s a colleague: Mr. Singleton was a great, great, great hitter. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves because his peak started a little late and ended a little early, he wasn’t a great baserunner or defender, and the 1970s and early 1980s suppressed his stats. However, if you look at the numbers for each of his seasons, he was a top-five producer in the AL year after year. If you check out Singleton’s translated stats, which adjusts his numbers so he and everyone in history played in the same place at the same time, he rates as a .292/.399/.503 hitter, just a devastating combination of power and selectivity. Rice comes out at .290/.350/.535 — good, but not close to switch-hitting Singleton, and it’s not like Rice was a better fielder or baserunner.

And on that note, I bid you, and Kenny, a fine weekend. Stay warm!